wrappIng up 2020: a send off to a very unusual year

Happy Holidays, VegMichigan! Thanksgiving was different than normal, but it was still a nice day. Like many of you, I missed being with most of my extended family this year but we did the best we could with FaceTime, phone calls, and text messages. We still had lots of delicious plant-based food, worked on a family gratitude exercise, played Just Dance, and tried our luck with scratch-off lottery tickets (but we only won a dollar!) I hope your day was nice, too, and I hope you were still able to find safe ways to connect with your own loved ones. 

We have finally made it to the end of 2020. It has been a pretty difficult year and most of us have been through a lot of challenging stuff. Most people are just trying to maintain a positive outlook right now and do the best we can to ride this out. After the year we’ve had, I think that is good enough. For December, I have a few suggestions for incorporating healthy habits into the holidays. My hope is that we remember to do our best to take care of ourselves, but most importantly we enjoy the many great things about the season and stay hopeful for better things to come in 2021.

1.Set your intent for December early on: People tend to stick to goals more effectively if they write them down. If you want to stay on track but also want to enjoy the holiday, try to make a plan for the month to help yourself find a balance that feels right to you. Write down your goals. Have some fun with it. If you are like me and you love crossing things off lists, make little boxes that you can check off whenever you do healthy things. Make sure to build in some flexibility so you can enjoy the season. Don’t forget to reward yourself for your efforts.

2.Get creative with healthy alternatives this season: Finding ways to incorporate more whole, plant-based foods into your meals during the month of December will inevitably result in a healthier month for you. Fortunately, we have many resources available to help us recreate healthier versions of our favorite holiday appetizers, side dishes, main courses, and desserts. While looking for ideas for my own holiday menus, I came across a few resources you might find useful, as well: 

https://www.mamasezz.com/blogs/recipes/12-last-minute-whole-food-plant-based -holiday-recipes 


https://monkeyandmekitchenadventures.com/35-whole-food-plant-based-christm as-recipes/ 

– If you use Pinterest, it has an abundance of whole food plant based meal ideas – For inspiration, you can find some holiday themed plant based cooking demonstrations online as well, like this one: 


3. Intentionally fill up on healthy things first: Even if our gatherings are smaller this year, it is still a cherished tradition to prepare and enjoy beautiful meals around the holidays. A good way to enjoy these meals and not go too overboard is to make it a point to fill up on the healthiest things first. Have a plate of salad, fruit, or vegetables first, and then make the rest of your meal choices. This way you can still enjoy your favorite things, but satiating your appetite with whole plant foods will help you find a healthier balance.

4. Have a day-after plan to get back on track: If you do have a day where you indulge more than you wanted to, don’t sweat it. The next day is an opportunity for a fresh start. Start it off by eating light with fruits and vegetables, get some exercise in, and try to keep busy and not sedentary. The important thing is to stay balanced.

5. Use the month as an opportunity to get creative: December is a great time to try new things. Have some fun exploring with new recipes. Sample some different fruits or vegetables, whole grains, or seasonings you may not have used before. Try a new workout routine or different type of exercise. Experiment with mindfulness or gratitude exercises. Work on different ways to build new healthful activities and more variety into your routine. This will help you end the year on a good note and set yourself up for a healthy and happy new year. 

preparIng for the new year

A new year is around the corner, which means an opportunity for another fresh start. At the end of each year, I enjoy taking some time out for self-reflection. At my house, we’ve been asking each other a lot of reflective questions lately. It has helped us to remember things we have to be thankful for, kind things people did for us this year, good things that happened to us, things that went right, and things that could have gone better. It also helps us think about how we can make some tweaks to try to be a little healthier than the year before. Consider how you would answer the following questions, for example. Maybe your answers will help guide you in some goal setting to start 2021 off on a good foot.

1. What was something about 2020 that brought you unexpected happiness?

2. What were some ways you were successful in navigating the challenges of 2020?

3. Why was 2020 a healthier or unhealthier year, compared to previous years?

4. What are 3 ways you would like to improve your health in 2021?

5. What are some things that inspire you right now?

If you like to reflect on these kinds of questions, there are a whole bunch like these available on the web. Here’s one example of a good list, below. 


As we wrap up what has been a tumultuous year, I am making it a point to be hopeful that 2021 will be a year of progress and peace for all of us. The holidays are such a wonderful time of year. Let’s enjoy the special moments ahead, connect with our loved ones, help our neighbors, support small and local businesses, remember to eat well, get some physical activity, and remember what we have to be grateful for. Thank you for keeping up with my blog this year, and I will look forward to writing to you all again in 2021!